( by Tom Gaston )
The following important questions need to be addressed and answered as they will reveal clearly as to why the Church cannot possibly be here during the tribulation period.
Question: Who is the one who “restrains” evil and the evil one ( man of sin / antichrist ) from coming onto the world stage?
Answer: The Holy Spirit who indwells every believer ( 2 Thess. 2:7 ). God is the only one who has the power to restrain evil and the devil himself in this world on behalf of His Church.
Question: If the body of Christ was left on the earth to go through the tribulation period, then how could God bring forth the man of sin?
Answer: He couldn’t, since He would still have to be restraining him on behalf of His Church by His Spirit who indwells His body. And therefore………..” the gates of hell would NOT be able to prevail against it ( the Church / Matt. 16:18 ).
Question: So then Could God officially start the tribulation while the church is still present on the earth?
Answer: No! For if God attempted to start the tribulation period while the Church was still here, then He would be defeating His own purpose for wanting to start it. Why? Because if the purpose of the Holy Spirit which indwells the body for Christ is for the purpose of restraining and preventing the man of sin / antichrist from coming onto the world stage, and He most certainly is ( 2 Thess. 2:7 ), then how could He possibly bring forth this man while the Holy Spirit is still restraining on behalf of His church which is still upon the earth inside the tribulation period? God would be working against Himself and His own divine purposes!
Question: What would happen to God’s plan for national Israel if the Church was still here during the tribulation period?
Answer: It would mean that all of the Jews who believed in the messiah during the tribulation would all be baptized and placed into the “body of Christ” by the Holy Spirit ( 1 Cor. 12:12,13) who would be indwelling them at that time due to the Church still being present on the earth.
If the following above were the case ( and it is not), then how could God possibly fulfill His earthly promises and blessings which He promised to national Israel, since all the believing Jews would now be a heavenly people and not an earthly people anymore? They would then become partakers of a “spiritual kingdom” in the heavenlies as members of the body of Christ. This means that when the Rapture took place then all the “saved” Jews of national Israel who were redeemed during the tribulation would be caught up in the Rapture and removed from this earth as members of the body of Christ and would no longer be an “earthly people.” This ultimately means then that there would be no physical believing earthly remnant of Israel left in their natural bodies on the earth in order to enter the earthly kingdom of Christ when He returned. All that would be left is the wicked who will be put to death, both Jew and Gentile alike ( Matt. 25:30, 46).
Think about what I just said! If the Church was to be present on the earth during the tribulation period, then it would mean that Christ would have to “bypass” the literal establishment of His kingdom on earth which He promised to national Israel, and God would have to go right into the “White Throne Judgment” and then eternity, since the believing “remnant of Israel” has now become members of the body of Christ who have been caught up in the Rapture event. This also means then that God could NOT fulfill His own word which He spoke through His own Jewish prophets concerning and His earthly kingdom and kingdom blessings to national Israel. God cannot and will not “scrap” and “bypass” His own Kingdom!
Now, just think how much Scripture you would have to throw out or tear out of your bibles if this were the case scenario which I have shared above! Not only this, but it also would destroy God’s integrity and make Him a liar, a cheat, and an untrustworthy God wouldn’t it! His word then could no longer be trusted. And if this is the case, then we all are just playing “Church” and we are nothing more than fools living out a lie and a “make believe” fairytale story which really doesn’t exist!
Now some foolish person might push the “envelope” here and ask the following question below or something similar to it which has no support in Scripture.
Example Question: “Yes, but couldn’t God fulfill both the Church and Israel’s program in the same time slot? Why couldn’t the Church be in the tribulation period and those Gentiles who come to know Christ be placed into the body of Christ and the saved Jews not be placed into the body of Christ, but rather remain as saved national Jews to go into the earthly kingdom when Christ returned?
First of all, anyone with any common sense knows that “oil and water do not mix.” Secondly, such a question from someone obviously shows that they do NOT understand the separation of Israel’s program from the program of the Church. The reality is that you cannot mix the “age of grace” with God’s period of judgment and wrath, since Scripture is very clear that the Church is not under any “condemnation” whatsoever ( Rom. 8:1 ), and therefore not one member of the body of Christ will ever be subjected to the wrath of God ( Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9; Rev. 3:10). These two different dispensations of time cannot be combined and Scripture does not support such a teaching. They are like “polar opposites” which repel one another.
The Church is already “righteous” before God and Israel has not been saved yet nationally ( Rom. 11:25– 27 ). Unbelieving national Israel has been and is presently under God’s wrath and are “enemies” of the cross of Christ ( Rom. 11: 28; 1 Thess. 2:14-16 ) ever since they put to death their own messiah. God has placed the Jews back in His own land ( Lev. 25: 23 ) at this time in order to prepare her for the tribulation hour which is dead ahead. The following text below shows that present day national Israel is under God’s wrath, which they will experience literally and physically during the tribulation period.
1 Thess. 2:14-16………”For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the JEWS………..who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are NOT PLEASING TO GOD, but hostile to ALL MEN……..hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of THEIR SINS…..But WRATH has come upon them to the utmost ( Not upon the Church ).
Interjection:… As you can see from the Scripture above unsaved national Israel today is NOT pleasing to God in their rebellious and unrepentant spiritual state. But despite this God has brought back His unbelieving “ethnic Jewish people” back to “His land” for the purpose of preparing this unrepentant people for the coming tribulation hour. which will bring forth a redeemed remnant out of Israel. The Jewish people in God’s land today are only God’s chosen people “ethnically”, but NOT spiritually yet. This must be understood. No one belongs to God based on their “ethnicity” alone, whether they are a “Jew” or a “Gentile.”
Colossians 3:10,11……..”And have put on the “new self ” who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…….A renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
Here you can see that those individual members who make up the “one body” of Christ whether Jew or Gentile are not identified by their ethnic backgrounds within the body of Christ. God does NOT recognize nor acknowledge a Jew or a Gentiles ethnicity once they have entered into the body of Christ. Both groups have become one with each other and are all individual members of the one body of Christ ( Eph. 4:4 ) who were placed there by the Holy Spirit ( 1 Cor. 12:12,13 ).
Rom. 11:25 – 27………”For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel UNTIL the “fullness” of the Gentiles has come in ( completion of the Church );……..
……and thus all Israel will be saved ( God’s believing remnant of national Israel ): just as it is written…….”The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob……..And this is My covenant with them ( NOT the Church ) when I take away their sins.”
Notice in this text that Paul the apostle still teaches and acknowledges Israel’s national identity following the “fullness of the Gentile” ( The completion of the Church ). Also Paul is writing here concerning Israel in relationship to her national conversion which is yet future, and of which “comes after” the “fullness” or completion of the Church. The apostle Paul makes a clear distinction and separation between Israel’s national redemption and the closing of the dispensation of the Church, which must be completed ( the fullness of the Gentiles ) before ALL of Israel can be saved. The term “All ” does NOT mean “every Jew“, but rather refers to the “remnant of Israel ” which God will save out of that unbelieving Jewish nation.
This “spiritual blindness” which has been placed upon unbelieving national Israel by God cannot be lifted UNTIL the body of Christ has first been completed and removed from the earth. God’s wrath is only reserved for those Jews and Gentiles who have NOT believed the gospel of Christ and who are therefore NOT members of the body of Christ ( 2 Thess. 2:10-12 ).
2 Thess. 2:13,14……. ”But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in The Truth……..And it was for THIS ( for this purpose ) He has called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ……….( and NOT His wrath – Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9 ). The Church has already been cleansed and sanctified ( Col. 1:21,22 ).
Therefore the apostle Paul shows clearly that the Church cannot possibly be present on the earth partaking in Israel’s judgment program during the tribulation period or else the believing remnant of Israel during that time would lose her “earthly national identity” due to the fact that she would then become members of a “spiritual body” of believers ( the body of Christ), which would be raptured. This would make her a “heavenly people” with spiritual blessings and promises in the heavenlies ( Eph. 1:3 ) rather than earthly promises. This can never happen as it would not allow God to fulfill His own promises to His people Israel. There must be an “earthly remnant” of Israel remaining on the earth at the END of the tribulation period in order for them to go into Christ’s kingdom ( Matt. 21:42,43 ).
Ephesians 1:3 ….( To the Church Paul writes)………Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
The whole purpose of the tribulation period ( the completion of the 70th Week / Dan. 9:24– 27 ) is so that God can save a “Jewish remnant” out from among the unbelieving nation of Israel who will go into the kingdom and inherit all the promised “earthly blessings” which God had promised to His chosen people ( Gen. 17:7, 13:15, 17 17:8 ). The Church has NEVER been promised a geographical earthly piece of real estate on this planet by God as the Church’s blessings are heavenly. But God has indeed made such a promise to His chosen earthly people called “Israel.”
1 Corinthians 10:32………..Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.
In the above Scripture text of 1 Cor. 10:32 the apostle Paul makes very clear that there are three groups of people which still exists in this world following the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ to heaven. They are the Jew , the Gentile, and the Church of God. Now If the Church was suppose to go into the tribulation period, which Scripture specifically states is for national Israel ( Dan. 9:24 – 27 / and the completion of Dan. 70th week ), then the apostle Paul would have not written what he has stated in first Corinthians 10:32 above. His statement shows clearly that the “Church” ( then, today, and forever ) is a separate group of believers who are to remain separate from the unbelieving Jewish nation of Israel and the unbelieving “Gentile” world ( Colossians 3:11 ).
If the Church is to share in the same prophetic ”time slot“ and program with Israel, then it means that…………………
1. Those Jews who believe in Christ during the tribulation period will be placed into the body of Christ which is still present on the earth at that time. And if this is true, then it means that……….
2. God could not fulfill His earthly promises to earthly national Israel when He returns to the earth, since all those Jews who came to faith in their messiah during the tribulation period were all placed into the one body of Christ which was still present on the earth who were then raptured. This would mean then that………..
3. God could not fulfill the bringing of His Kingdom to the earth since there are NO saved living remnant of the Jews in their natural bodies in order to go into that kingdom which God promised that believing Jewish nation. And if this is true then……………
4. There would be no need for Christ to even return in order to set up such an earthly Kingdom. And He would have to “bypass” and scrap His earthly kingdom program for Israel and go right into the White Throne Judgment. Therefore there would be NO 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth, since all the wicked ( both Jew and Gentile ) who were alive when He returned would be put to death, which inturn would leave NO believing remnant of Israel on the earth.
It is clear in Scripture that God has made certain “earthly promises” to national Israel, and He also has made certain “spiritual heavenly promises” to His Church. They cannot be combined nor share the same “prophetic time slot”, and it is Scripturally impossible for God to do so!
In conclusion here it must be understood by all that The Church is not national Israel and national Israel is NOT the Church. God’s program for His Church MUST BE kept totally separate from God’s program for His earthly people national Israel. And for anyone NOT to do so creates confusion and theological problems which cannot be answered in God’s word. Such a teaching contradicts the Scriptures which would have to be rewritten all over again in order to have harmony with such a teaching. National Israel’s program must be kept “separate” from God’s program for the Church. When this is done, then all the confusion falls by the way side and God’s word flows with harmony without contradiction. Many are teaching “replacement theology” today which teaches that the Church has replaced Israel. This is also another false teaching that is related to this subject here.